Issue 244 : January 2024
The consumption of Halaal (lawful) and the abstention from Haraam (unlawful) are fundamental obligations that all Muslims are required to adhere to. This responsibility is deeply rooted in our individual and collective accountability to our Creator.
The South African National Halaal Authority (SANHA) was established 28 years ago as a dedicated Halaal certifying body to provide consumers with guidance and support in fulfilling this responsibility as well as addressing the many new challenges facing them such as globalisation and industrialization. Some three thousand substances are deliberately added to food and drinks to increase their desirability. Another ten thousand compounds and combinations of these can be used during processing, packaging and storing of products. Supermarket shelves and freezers overflow with an astonishing array of foods from all over the world making the selection of Halaal products a major challenge.
The Misconception of Ignorance
Assumptions lead to errors, and have led to the misconception that if a person consumes a Haraam or doubtful product unknowingly, it would be condoned on the grounds of ignorance. People do not always bother to verify whether products are Halaal or not, and rely on the testimony of others. The idea is that “legally” they are not sinning because they didn’t know. The negative spiritual ramification of Haraam is not diminished even in ignorance. Poison does not lose its potency or become ineffective if ingested in ignorance.
This misconception draws parallels with the popular saying, “ignorance is bliss.” Within the framework of Islamic teachings, this notion is far from the truth and an antithesis of Islamic values.
The Noble Qur’aan and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) emphasize the importance of knowledge and awareness. Ignorance, especially when it leads to actions that are contrary to Islamic principles, is not condoned.
Often it is ignorance that drives foolishness. Knowledge on the other hand carries the power to dispel the darkness of ignorance and usher in the light of guidance and towards making correct choices.
The obligation of seeking knowledge can be found in the words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) where he is reported to have said: “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Islam encourages its followers to seek knowledge throughout their lives. The first Revelation received by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the command to read and seek knowledge. It is through knowledge that individuals can distinguish between what is Halaal and what is Haraam.
If ignorance is bliss, then knowledge is power. Ignorance is weakness in a world where survival requires strength.
The Role of Halaal Certification
SANHA plays a vital role in facilitating access to authentic Halaal products. SANHA conducts rigorous audits and assessments of products, manufacturing processes, ingredients and processing plants, to certify its Halaal status. This certification provides consumers with the much needed assurance to make informed choices.
SANHA’s Commitment to Education
In keeping with its mission, SANHA offers customized programs for schools, Madaaris, Darul Ulooms, and public awareness programs at Masaajid. These programs have been carefully developed and tailored for different academic levels ranging from the junior primary phase right up to the senior secondary phase. More comprehensive programs dealing with contemporary Halaal matters have also been specially tailored for Darul Ulooms and Ulama groups.
SANHA extends an invitation to institutions interested in hosting educational programs presented by Ulama. These programs aim to deepen understanding and awareness of Halaal matters among the community.
In Islam, ignorance is not a valid excuse for consuming doubtful and Haraam products. Every individual is encouraged to seek knowledge and take responsibility for their actions, including their dietary choices. SANHA serves as an essential resource for the community, helping them verify the Halaal status of products they consume. By understanding and adhering to these principles, Muslims can align their actions with the teachings of Islam and work towards securing Salvation in the Hereafter.
For more information and to arrange an educational outreach program at your institution, please contact SANHA’s Helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0861 786 111